BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Shortly after 1am on December 31st, a Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper came upon a BMW car parked in a Bellingham retail shopping center parking lot with its engine running and 2 men asleep in the front seats. What transpired afterwards left the 2 men in jail and facing multiple charges in Superior Court.
According to affidavits of probable cause prepared by WSP troopers and filed in Whatcom County Superior Court by prosecutors, the trooper pulled up to the front of the silver BMW and observed it was occupied by 2 sleeping males who appeared to be “sweating profusely.” He also observed drug paraphernalia and blue pills that appeared to be fentanyl.
He knocked on the car window and both men woke and were asked to provide their identification. The passenger asked if they were being detained and was told by the trooper they were while he conducted investigations into the narcotics and driving under the influence were being conducted. At this time a second WSP trooper arrived.
The driver and passenger identified themselves verbally. The first trooper pointed to the blue pills and asked the driver for them. Instead, the driver placed them on the passenger’s lap and the passenger got out and fled on foot carrying the pills.
The first trooper pursued the passenger on foot, catching up with him when he fell on the ice in the middle of W Bakerview Road. The 2 exchanged punches and wrestled. The passenger relaxed when the second trooper arrived to assist and appear to stop fighting. The first trooper instructed the second to return to the car and stop the driver, who at this point was attempting to flee in the BMW.
Once the second trooper left, the passenger resumed fighting, punching the trooper in the face and choking him by grabbing his neck. They continued to exchange punches and wrestle until officers with the Bellingham Police Department arrived and assisted with taking him into custody.
While the first trooper was dealing with the fleeing passenger, the driver began driving out of the parking lot. The second trooper followed the BMW onto W Bakerview Road and onto northbound I-5. The trooper ended his pursuit due the reckless driving and speeds “easily in excess of 110mph in snowy and icy conditions.” He returned to assist the first trooper.
According to emergency radio transmissions between multiple law enforcement agencies at the time, other law enforcement personnel began watching for the fleeing BMW.
According to the affidavit, a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputy located the BMW abandoned in a parking lot near a motel in Ferndale.
According to emergency radio transmissions, Ferndale Police officers joined the effort as a perimeter was established around the motel toward which footprints leading from the car could be seen and security cameras began being monitored.
According to the affidavits, a woman was seen on security video taking 2 long barreled firearms to a trash receptacle outside the motel.
The driver was eventually located in a room with the woman, and both agreed to exit the room and were placed under arrest without incident. A search of the room revealed more fentanyl pills, different identifications, bank statements, another firearm and parts for 2 additional firearms.
The passenger was identified as Gregery Scot Fetsch. He was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, 3rd degree assault of a law enforcement officer, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest.
According to court records, prosecutors are pursuing charges of 2nd degree assault by strangulation and unlawful firearm possession again Fetsch in Whatcom County Superior Court.
Fetsch made a preliminary appearance in court on January 4th and the State requested bail be set to $250,000 and the defense requested $50,000. The court set bail at $100,000 or $10,000 in cash. He remained in custody as of January 5th.
The driver was identified as Gary Dean Aardema, Jr. He was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail charged with attempting to elude a police vehicle, driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a firearm, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest.
Aardema also made a preliminary appearance in court on January 3rd and the State requested bail be set to $100,000 and the defense objected without a recommendation. The court set bail at $50,000. He remained in custody as of January 5th.
At the time of this incident, Fetsch was out of custody after posting 2 separate $100,000 bonds while awaiting trial for multiple felony protection order violations, 2nd degree robbery and 2nd degree assault by strangulation in 2 separate Superior Court cases.
Both men had prior convictions for felony crimes which makes it a crime for them to possess firearms.
Aardema has previous felony convictions for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine/heroin, 3rd degree assault, possession of meth, 1st degree theft, 2nd degree theft, attempting to elude a police vehicle, residential burglary, 2nd degree assault, intimidating a witness, 2nd degree robbery and taking a vehicle without permission.